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Engineering functional partial joint replacement: a soft solution to a hard problem

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Friday, January 03, 2020
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

Arthritis is a common problem and typically treatment includes replacing the articular surfaces with hard metal on both sides of the joint with intervening plastic or ceramic. Although successful, with time these fail and further surgery is extensive with unpredictable outcomes. In a significant proportion of cases, the arthritis starts as a focal area on one side of the joint and in such cases, the replacement of one of the contacting articular cartilage surfaces is possible. This is less invasive and allows the patient to return to day to day activities quicker. Currently, these treatment options (known as hemiarthroplasty) include replacing the soft articular cartilage with a hard metallic surface, and are common in the treatment of joint problems secondary to trauma and/or arthritis. Hemiarthroplasty devices for hip, knee, ankle and shoulder currently exist but with somewhat unpredictable results. In vitro studies have shown that replacing the relatively compliant cartilage-covered native surface with a stiff, metallic, axisymmetrical hemiarthroplasty implant can reduce joint contact area by up to two thirds compared with the native joint and cause higher peak contact stress. The abnormal contact mechanics may promote degeneration and erosion of the native cartilage leading to persistent pain, stiffness, and loss of function. Without a doubt, the interactions occurring at the device–cartilage interface are key to successful implantation.

This project is available as one of five PhD studentships with the Bragg Centre to tackle fundamental and applied problems to create new and improve existing materials. These will address fundamental and applied problems across design, characterisation, fabrication and modelling. The Centre comprises around 150 members from over ten Schools and has had continued investment in excellent facilities and infrastructure, including a new building opening in 2020, to ensure that our staff and students benefit from state-of-the-art, high quality equipment and laboratories. We are a founding partner of the Henry Royce Institute, the UK’s Institute for Advanced Materials.

Funding Notes

Funding is available from the Bragg Centre for Materials Research for 3.5 years and covers the cost of academic fees at the UK/EU rate (currently £4,500 per year for 2019/20) and provides a stipend at EPSRC rates (currently £15,009 per year for 2019/20).

How good is research at University of Leeds in General Engineering?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 44.80

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

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